Sschool Heads Query

Arch­bishop Peter Loy Chong re­quests for faith­based teach­ers after prin­ci­pals of two Catholic schools re­placed Govt’s po­si­tion - prin­ci­pals’ ap­point­ments done on merit in the best in­ter­est of stu­dents


The head of the Ro­man Catholic Church in Fiji has asked the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to re­con­sider hav­ing mem­bers of the church to head its schools. Arch­bishop Peter Loy Chong, in a let­ter to Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Rosy Ak­bar dated Jan­uary 11, also re­quests that faith be an el­e­ment of the Open Merit Re­cruit­ment Se­lec­tion Sys­tem (OMRSS).

He also met Ali­son Burchell, the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary

for Ed­u­ca­tion.

This is after prin­ci­pals of two Catholic schools – Joseph Sabu of Xavier Col­lege in Ba and Fran­cis Abra­ham of Saint Thomas High School in Lau­toka – were re­placed by non-Catholics re­cently. Ms Ak­bar could not be reached to com­ment, but the Gov­ern­ment po­si­tion is that ap­point­ments are made on merit in the best in­ter­est of the stu­dents. If churches want to choose their prin­ci­pals then they have to pay their salaries. Arch­bishop Chong’s views were posted on the church’s Face­book page. He de­clined to elab­o­rate when con­tacted yes­ter­day.

Mr Sabu also re­fused to com­ment. Mr Abra­ham could not be reached. Arch­bishop Loy Chong’s views were sup­ported by the Pres­i­dent of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Rev­erend Epineri Vakade­wavosa. Rev­erend Vakade­wavosa said the prin­ci­ples and teach­ings of the church main­tained that mem­bers of the faith must head their ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions be­cause it was the only way to pre­serve and main­tain the church’s teach­ings and ide­olo­gies.

The let­ter to Ms Ak­bar says: “This week the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion ap­pointed two non-Catholic act­ing prin­ci­pals to Xavier Col­lege and St Thomas High School. Brothers Fran­cis and Sabu are do­ing a fine job in these schools. We humbly re­quest that they re­main prin­ci­pals.

“With all due re­spect to your of­fice, I re­quest that Hon. Min­is­ter con­sid­ers faith as a com­po­nent of the OMRSS. The faith-based school rep­re­sen­ta­tive be­lieve that hav­ing a school head that be­longs to our faith will en­hance the school.”

The let­ter also stated that the faith-based schools had raised this is­sue with Ms Burchell.

“She as­sured us that the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion will en­sure close con­sul­ta­tion with school man­agers and that the unique cul­ture of faith-based schools will be sup­ported,” the let­ter says. At­tempts to get a com­ment from Ms Burchell failed.

Fiji Mus­lim League na­tional pres­i­dent, Hafizud Dean Khan, said that all faith-based schools would want their schools to be led by their own, how­ever, it would be a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion with the cur­rent sys­tem in place.

“To get the best ed­u­ca­tion, you have to get the best teach­ers to meet that need and re­quire­ments so you have to set­tle for the best teach­ers. Some­times they may not be of your faith but you have to learn to man­age this very care­fully as far as your faith is main­tained and you’ve reached your own re­li­gious and teach­ing goals,” he said. “At the end of the day the main im­por­tant goal is to make sure our kids get the best ed­u­ca­tion.” He added that at times their own peo­ple might not have the re­quire­ment or met the qual­i­fi­ca­tion needed.


Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Arch­bishop Peter Loy Chong

Pres­i­dent of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Rev­erend Epineri Vakade­wavosa.

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